Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Lots of exposure for Louisville's Smith

ATLANTA — Russ Smith has a reputation for being a little, shall we say, out there. He has never met a shot he didn't like, and his antics drove coach Rick Pitino to distraction his first year at Louisville.

And that exuberance isn't limited to the court.

Pitino was talking Sunday about the passion his players have for the other sports at Louisville. After mentioning that Gorgui Dieng goes to every women's game, Pitino said Smith had been something of a super fan for a women's soccer game.

"Russ Smith took off all his clothes — except his underpants, of course — and painted his body red for a women's soccer game in the cold," Pitino said.

Smith was proud to confirm Pitino's story, nodding and giving a big thumbs-up.

"Now you know what I'm coaching," Pitino said, smiling.

OFF THE BENCH: Michigan coach John Beilein acknowledges now that freshman F Mitch McGary was deserving of a start earlier than the NCAA Tournament but said he felt a loyalty to start some upperclassmen, and "I've always had an idea that I love having enthusiastic, energy players coming off the bench."

McGary has started all five NCAA games and is averaging 16 points and 11.6 rebounds.

"There came a point I didn't want to get off to bad starts," Beilein said. "We saw enough of him to say, 'Let's not worry about who comes off the bench as much right now because he's ready to help us from the get-go.' "

SORRY GUYS: Future Louisville players aren't going to be too happy with Peyton Siva.

Pitino likes his players to limit their outside distractions, which is why he highly "encourages" them not to use social media sites such as Twitter. But Instagram isn't really on Pitino's radar. At least, it wasn't before Sunday.

"I'm going to mess it up for the guys who are coming in," Siva said. "He doesn't really know anything about Instagram yet. That's why we get away with that."

Sure enough, if you check the Twitter feeds of the Louisville players, there's not much there. Instagram, however, is a different story, with many of the Cardinals posting dozens of pictures of themselves and their teammates.

"He can't tell me not to do it because I'm leaving" today, said Siva, a senior. "So I'm good."

BEILEIN FOLLOWERS: Beilein will have plenty of fans in the crowd tonight. Some don't even have much of a connection to Michigan.

"We have several players here. Two LeMoyne players are here. I've heard from Erie Community College players, Canisius players," the coach said, rattling off a few of his previous seven stops. He has also coached at Nazareth, Richmond and West Virginia.

Pair of Cards: This is the third time a school's men's and women's teams will play for a title in the same season. Louisville joins the 1999 Duke teams (both of whom lost) and the 2004 UConn teams (both of whom won).

MANY THANKS: Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said "thank you" to Shockers fans by taking out a full-page ad in the Wichita Eagle. The Shockers were eliminated by Louisville on Saturday. The advertisement is almost entirely black — the school colors are black and yellow — with the Shockers logo above the words in white that read, "Thank you, Shocker faithful."

DIVISION II: Alex Hall sank two free throws with 22.8 seconds left to help Drury (31-4) rally from a 17-point deficit and beat Metro State (32-3) 74-73 in Atlanta and win the national championship.

DIVISION III: Allen Williamson had 18 points to lead Amherst as the Lord Jeffs (30-2) beat Mary Hardin-Baylor (27-6) 87-70 in Atlanta for the national championship.

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